'Serious concerns' about hospital
The health watchdog has raised "serious concerns" about the care of children at a scandal-hit hospital following the death of a 10-year-old girl.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) performed an unannounced inspection at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Essex after "a number of serious incidents involving the care of children at the trust".
A spokeswoman confirmed the inspection on November 3 was prompted by the death of the girl and a medication overdose of a baby. It is understood that the girl was treated at the trust before she was transferred to St Mary's Hospital in west London where she later died. The baby is expected to make a full recovery.
The CQC said that "rapid and sustainable improvement" is needed at the trust. The watchdog has also ordered an independent investigation into the paediatric services.
Inspectors found that there were problems with waiting times, the numbers of senior staff and out-of-date medicines. They said that when some children arrived on the ward, they waited for more than an hour to see a doctor.
"Staff said there were often considerable delays in children receiving medical attention when concerns over their condition deteriorating were escalated to doctors, particularly after 5pm and at weekends," a CQC spokeswoman said.
Inspectors found medicines that should have been discarded and had concerns about the lack of senior medical and nursing staff available on the ward. "The trust was found to be failing to plan and deliver care to meet the needs of children in a way that ensured their welfare and safety," she added.
The CQC issued the trust with two warnings and is demanding immediate improvement. It is not the first time the trust has been issued a warning by the health watchdog. Earlier this year it was ordered to make improvements following inspections of the accident and emergency department and adult wards.
Andrea Gordon, CQC deputy director of operations (regions), said: "What our inspectors found at the trust on November 3 was completely unacceptable... Our inspectors will return in the near future and if we find the required progress is not made, we won't hesitate to use our legal powers to protect the people who use this service."
The trust said it could not provide any details about the child's death and the overdose of the baby because the cases are both subject to an internal review. A spokeswoman for the trust said that "immediate steps" were being taken to improve paediatric services.